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February 8th, 2016
One reason many meetings ramble on is because there are no clear objectives set. Have your agenda run like a tight ship and make sure you send out the meeting agenda to everyone involved. Your meeting attendees may have things they want to add on, but if it suddenly becomes too long then suggest they hold a further meeting to discuss those separately.
Before going into a meeting have a set of questions that you need the meeting to answer, as you go through the meeting if you can't tick these off you need to re-asses your meeting agenda.
Sometimes there might be two people from the same area that you feel might both need to attend. Cut it down as much as you can. If you can't say that person 100% needs to be there then don't add them to the list.
Research done by WhenIsGood.net, a web app for scheduling meeting times, studied 2 million responses to over 500,000 schedules events. Only 1/3 of those accepted a meeting before 10am. Research coordinator Keith Harris speculates that the reason for this is "if you have a meeting at 9 a.m., employees will need to prepare the day before, or turn up underprepared." From a productivity standpoint, early morning meetings should be avoided. You shouldn't expect them to pay attention and contribute to the conversation. Consider the right time that everyone can meet, having a 9am meeting when you know some of the attendees start later due to childcare commitments etc. is not starting as you mean to go on.
So we've all heard about these revolutionary meeting ideas - such as the standing meeting. Another innovative meeting idea is the Swiss Train Approach to meetings. Heard of this one? Neither had I, but basically you start the meeting at an odd time, 9:23 to 9:43, being so specific should make you attendees highly curious and attentive to the start and ending points.
If you are holding a large meeting that may go on for a few hours, get everything prepared. Consider getting a jug of water for the table, if possible get the refreshments in. Or if you are having a very long meeting make sure you schedule breaks in between so that people can all go to the toilet/ get refreshments at the same time.
I've been in meetings where a lot of people have needed to come to one agreed decision and sometimes I've sat back and thought this is not going to reach a decision today. Take the lead and rather than sit around wasting 20 minutes as people go round the houses and say, "I don't think we will reach a decision today." Or even it might be that you need to take a vote of "yes" "no".
I know this is all getting rather military, but some people may have back to back meetings and therefore once the meetings end, the meeting has to end for them and they will be dashing off to the next meeting and won't have time to recap, therefore if you meetings ends at 10am set a reminder for 9:50am. That means you can spend the last 10 minutes wrapping up and covering off action points for everyone.
Okay, so the weathers not right for this now, but outside meetings are a great way to bring a different element to the meeting. Provided you only need yourself, a laptop and some writing materials there's no reason you can't get a bit of fresh air and have this meeting outside. If the weathers is favourable it will mean you're getting fresh air and some sun on your back and should improve your mood too.
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